How to react when your child misses the school bus

Last week, I shared how our older son gets himself ready for school and makes the bus all on his own, before we even get out of bed.

With our younger son it’s a whole different story.   You would never know the two boys are just 16 months apart.    Yes, for your younger son, mornings for the most part spell “misery”.  And that ususally means misery for the rest of us.

This morning was a prime example.  He has had a nagging cough for a week and despite our best attempts to medicate him, he says the coughing is keeping him up at night.  We even got a prescription for Cough Medicine with Codein yesterday and we could still hear him hacking away all night.  And yes, he woke up complaining about getting no sleep.  So should we go easy on him because he is ailing?

It’s funny, over the long holiday weekend, he didn’t complain as much about not sleeping, even though he had the same symptoms.   When I asked how he slept Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings… the answer was  “pretty good”.   Then the school days arrive and he acts like the cough is the worst curse in the world.

So this morning, he spent so much time complaining and lolli-gagging, he missed the bus.  I kept giving him countdowns. The bus comes in 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 2 minutes? Have you brushed your teeth? What about breakfast? The next thing I know, the bus is cruising by the house with my son still inside lacing his sneakers.   I tell him, he better get outside and sprint.  Three minutes later, I hear the front door opening.   It’s my son explaining how he ran a block and a half but couldn’t catch the bus. 

So what do you say or do in these circumstances? Making him walk is out of the question.   School is about 5 miles away and it’s 2 degrees.  In the past, we threatened to make the kids fork out their own cash for a taxi ride to school.  Notice, the word threatened.  We haven’t done that yet.   If I remember correctly, today is only the second time our youngest has actually missed the bus just for being pokey. My first reaction was,  “Go to your room. You are spending the day there.”  Then I switched gears and offered to drive him, because I didn’t think missing the bus qualified as a good reason to miss school. (And no, he doesn’t have a fever and shouldn’t be contagious. The doctor thinks he has a sinus infection).

But I still feel strongly kids who miss the bus for no good reason should be punished? But what’s a fair price to pay?

Have your kids missed the bus before? How have you reacted?

My hubby tends to get pretty angry when stuff like this happens.  He started packing up the XBOX and said video games like Black-Ops and Dance Central would be off-limits. Notice in this video taken just Sunday night, my son doesn’t look very sick. And yes, he had the same cough.

Then my hubby went on to say if there were any more time conflicts with hockey and Hebrew, my son would be going to Hebrew school instead of hockey,  no matter what.   My son burst into tears.    He interpreted that statement as Dad taking hockey away.

So after a very emotional ride to school with my son,  I returned home to explain to my husband that it doesn’t work to make empty threats.  We need to come up with a punishment we can agree on and stick to, one that seems reasonable for the offense committed which in this case was “Missing the bus and not listening to us in the morning”.

I think that a couple of days without the XBOX seems fair.  My husband said it should stay boxed up at least a week, but personally I don’t think it’s doable. Am I being too much of a softy?  Not to mention, mom wants to use “Dance Central” for a workout today.

In my mind, before you come up with ramifications for any misconduct, you need to consider the following:

  • History (how many times has this happened before?)
  • The Crime (What did he actually do that was wrong? What behaviors do we need to work on? )
  • The Punishment (What have others done in cases like this? Is there any reason to cut the child slack, like illness or otherwise?)
  • The Result (What do you hope to accomplish with the punishment? For us, Listen better in the morning? What can you do so your child knows you are serious that you don’t want this behavior to happen again?)

In hindsight, maybe my husband and I should have discussed and agreed upon how we wanted to handle the situation before saying anything to him about a punishment.  Maybe it would have been better to say, we’ll take you to school now, and talk to you later when you get home.

Your input is welcome in yet another mom and dad debate.